In his third novel, Franzen bitterly—and hilariously—satirizes society's absurdities through the utterly dysfunctional, self-absorbed Lambert family. Patriarch Alfred is slowly surrendering to dementia caused by Parkinson's disease, while his wife, Enid, refuses to acknowledge the severity of his condition and obsessively focuses on assembling her reluctant children for a family Christmas in the Midwest. Gary, an investment banker, grapples with manic depression and blamese his problems on his controlling wife, who wants nothing more than to be a best friend to her three sons. Chip, a college professor who was fired for having an affair with a student, spirals out of control when he gives up his dream of becoming a screenwriter to execute an Internet scam in Lithuania. Denise, a chef in a trendy Philadelphia restaurant, heads down a slippery slope in a destructive relationship.
Hailed as the “Great American Novel,” The Corrections is at once a complex character study, a suspense novel, and a bitter comedy, which won the National Book Award. Franzen found himself in hot water after declining to appear on a book club segment of Oprah. He criticized her wildly popular club as lowbrow, forgetting that selection by Oprah virtually guarantees a sales increase of about a half-million copies. He also seemed ignorant to the fact that The Corrections is a perfect fit for Oprah's book club, which often features family sagas.